I loved sugar and it seemed to love me. I could eat as much of it as I wanted and I didn’t gain weight. It was a beautiful mutually satisfying relationship.
At least that’s what I thought. Until I realized I was just using sugar and sugar was, well, creating all kinds of havoc in my body.
Those Reese’s Cups and Oreo cookies and the bowls of Peanut Butter Cap’n’Crunch, not to mention the endless stream of Mountain Dew, were not treating me quite as well as I thought after all.
It wasn’t weight gain that led me to reevaluate my relationship with sugar, instead it was what I now call Hormonal Havoc that led to us eventually breaking up.
PMS that would take me out for a week at a time.
Depression and anxiety that took over at times.
Fatigue that kept me from enjoying my life.
And there was also the chronic sinus issues and stomach pain.
Once I started to connect the dots between my symptoms and what I was putting into my body, I had to stop denying that I needed to break up with sugar. Let me just say that it wasn’t a clean break and we still date once in a while even now.
Maybe you can relate???
Sugar is everywhere. All the time. You can’t even walk into a bank or a doctor’s office without a sucker staring you in the face. I mean, mustering the willpower it sometimes feels like it takes to walk away from all the sugar everywhere is exhausting.
I totally get it. As recovering a sugar addict who pretty much had a constant supply of sugar in one form or another, I know how tough it is to break the addiction. And for me it was an addiction. Do you know that sugar actually lights up the same part in the brain in scans that cocaine lights up. It really does give you a ‘high’ and keep you reaching for more so don't be too hard on yourself if you find that you struggle with sugar. You are not alone.
So what’s a gal to do when you know you need to break up with sugar?
First things first. NOTICE if sugar is an issue for you; NAME it for what it is - a challenge, a struggle, an addiction; and then DECIDE if you want to be more intentional about how much sugar you consume.
You may be thinking, ‘Well, that’s all fine and good for you because sugar’s not a challenge for you anymore.’
I’ll give you the inside scoop: It’s still hard some days.
While I have made the decision to be more intentional about not going crazy eating sugar, some days I have to be more conscientious than other days and it doesn’t always go like I wanted it to.
So is it easy for me? No, but it has gotten easier over the years because of the choices I’ve been making and continue to make about how to nourish myself both on my plate and in my life.
The good news is I no longer sit down and eat spoonsful of sugar right out of a sugar bowl! (This is actually something Jill and I found we had in common when we learned more about each other’s stories!)
If you’re really serious about calming your sugar cravings and (re)learning a different way of nourishing yourself, join us in our 14-Day Spring Reset that begins on May 19. You’ll be amazed by how quickly your cravings will lessen and even disappear when you follow the beautiful self-care plan we’ve strategically designed for you.
For today though, here are a few simple tips for navigating your relationship with sugar more intentionally:
Drink water. Lots of water - at least 1/2 your ideal body weight in ounces each day and drink it from a glass or water bottle you really love. If you already do this and you want to take it up a notch, add in about 1/8 of a teaspoon (or a good-sized-sprinkle) of unrefined sea salt to each glass or bottle once a day. Your body will love the trace minerals and over time they can help with sugar cravings.
Create space. Either move the bowl of candy or move yourself. It’s proven that we have a limited amount of willpower each day and we chip away at it every time we need to tap into it. Don’t put yourself in an impossible situation just to prove something to yourself or to anyone else…or to not make others feel bad about their choices. No judgment. You take care of yourself. That may mean tossing the candy after a few pieces have been enjoyed or taking a different route to your desk to avoid the cookies each day.
Eat in a rhythm. If you’ve been in the Reset you’ve already experienced how eating in a rhythm of 3 meals each day makes a huge difference when it comes to sugar cravings. Instead of skipping meals to save up calories for later or to make-up for eating so many cookies, eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner. Weight loss is not about calories as much as it’s about creating what we call Hormonal Harmony and one way to do that is to keep your blood sugar and insulin steady by eating three nourishing meals a day.
Eat more fat. Friendly Fat that is. Avocados and avocado oil. Olives and olive oil. Coconut oil. Raw nuts and seeds. Grass-fed meat, pasture-raised poultry and wild fish. Full-fat dairy. Yes, eat more butter. There I said it. Not only will you lose weight if that’s a goal, you’ll be less anxious, have fewer cravings and experience better energy. There are more benefits, but those are a good start, don’t you think? Jill and I eat lots and lots of Friendly Fat with every meal and it’s made a world of difference in our sugar cravings. Plus it’s fun to see women’s faces when they see us eating so much healthy fat.
Play more. Doing fun things in your life amps up the sweetness of your life. While sugar cravings and addiction are fueled by four different causes that we teach about in our programs, one thing that’s often true is that when you are craving sugar in your life, it’s often because you’re not allowing yourself to experience enough pleasure - both with food and in other ways. And what’s really cool is that there’s actually psychology + science to support the power of pleasure in our lives when it comes to our health.
Sleep a little more. Okay, you probably need to sleep a lot more. When you don’t get enough sleep - like 7-8+ hours, especially between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. - you will crave the quick-burning fuel of sugar and you will have much less willpower because you didn’t sleep enough to ‘restock and restore’. Again, there’s science behind this. It can be challenging but start by backing up your bedtime by 15 minutes each week until you’re snoozing by about 10 p.m.
Take one day at a time. Our brains don't really like all-or-nothing decisions to do or not do something. You can however trick (and treat!) your brain by saying, “Today I’m going to skip the candy.” or “Tonight I’m going to drink tea instead of wine.” or “This morning I’m going to eat a healthy breakfast.” Take one day - or sometimes in the beginning of change - one minute or one hour at a time. Your brain can do that which means you can do that. No grand forever-and-always commitments necessary.
If you’re ready to re-evaluate your relationship with sugar, and maybe even consider a break-up, starting with any of these tips above will be helpful if you’re consistent about it. Promise.
And, because we too like to enjoy some sweet treats, we’re sharing one of Chef Jackie’s recipes with you here. Do yourself a favor though. Use the best quality ingredients you can find and afford and when you go to eat one, put it on a pretty plate. Sit down and take a deep breath. Notice the color and the texture and the scent. Savor it. Let the whole experience be a sweet one for you. xo Angelle
ALMOND CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
2 medium bananas, ripe
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup nut butter
or make a thumb print before baking and fill it with real-fruit jam.
Pre-heat oven to 350.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
Combine all the ingredients in a zip-lock bag and seal.
Smash the bag until well-combined.
Scoop 16 cookies onto prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Cool + enjoy.